Dehcho Leadership Plan for MGP Impacts and Benefits

FORT SIMPSON, NWT – Jan. 27 — Dehcho First Nations and Metis community leadership unanimously agreed that they were prepared and ready to take on the impacts and benefits of the massive Mackenzie Gas Project (MGP) at a three-day leadership meeting here Jan. 23-25.

The leadership of the Dehcho will be the organization responsible for in developing a regional socio-economic investment plan for DFN communities with $700,000 in funds from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in advance of the proposed pipeline.

The 20 or so leaders, during intense discussions and analysis, made it clear that reviewing the information they have received form both governments and the MGP in no way prejudices their land claims negotiations with the federal and territorial governments or implies acceptance of the MGP across Dehcho lands.

“The communities need a strong sense that they will be prepared to take on the MGP if it proceeds and make sure that its benefits flow to them as owners of the land. They know their will also be many negative impacts on their culture, land and way-of-life and want to be ready to have serious plans mitigate these downsides,” said Dehcho Grand Chief Herb Norwegian, after the meeting ended.

Under the federal Mackenzie Gas Projects Act a $500 million impacts fund (the Socio- Economic Impact Fund) has been promised over the life of the pipeline, of which the Dehcho communities would receive about 30 percent or approximately $160 million, the remainder split between other First Nations in the Mackenzie Valley.

The leadership spent several intensive hours in working groups, reviewing the many details, options and aspects of planning required to mitigate the impacts of the proposed pipeline and ultimately agreed it was ready to move ahead.

Their second resolution following frank and detailed discussions, again in working groups, on the goals, priorities, impacts and actions needed to implement a Regional Steering Committee to guide the work of the plan. They also agreed to submit nominees to the minister of Indian Affairs for his appointment to the Corporation for the Mitigation of MGP Impacts. Nominees to the DCFN Regional Committee are forthcoming.

‘The work done this week shows how the Dehcho still continue prevail through adversity,” Norwegian stated, “but we are not giving up our basic opposition to the pipeline. Jurisdiction over our lands is the bottom line and not the MGP. Jurisdiction over our lands will only be resolved by negotiation.”

Community consultations will soon begin to explain the process of working to mitigate impacts, land use planning and community development so that the fund can be managed in a unified way for the benefit of all Dehcho.

For further information please contact Dehcho Grand Chief Herb Norwegian, DFN, Fort

Simpson, NWT, ( 867) 695-2355/2610